Shea and I getting Sage and Ginger fixed- Expectation: They will have some complications with the anesthesia and never wake up.
The washing machine and dryer stop working around midnight, leaving all our clothes wet. First thought: Someone sabotaged the machines because they were angry we were doing laundry so late.
I'm having a dinner party. Expectation: I will burn all the food, people will come late or not at all, it will be horrible.
I really, really dislike that aspect of my personality. Fortunately, more and more these are just fleeting first thoughts that I'm quickly able to squash. However, I still don't go into any situation getting my hopes up. I'm at the point where I try to stay rather neutral without any solid expectations. I have ideal outcomes, but I don't expect that they will happen.
I'm frequently disappointed by people. That often pushes me to have this unhealthy negative feeling towards people in general. Now, I *know* that there are a lot of good people out there, and a lot of people who maybe have disappointed me probably had good intentions. So how do I change the feeling? This year I decided to try a little thing I'm thinking of as an Internet Trust Fall.
I joined Reddit a few months ago and in November I saw a post about a Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange. Premise: You give your address to a stranger, as do about 17,000 other Redditors. He matches you all up to other strangers. You send a gift to your person, someone sends one to you. My first thought: I won't get anything. Why would some random stranger follow through on sending me something? Second thought: I'll get paperclips or something poisonous. Final thought: What the hell. I'll give it a go.
I signed up. I sent my person their favorite snack, glow sticks, hot cocoa, a charcoal drawing I did of the Reddit Alien, and a pair of Spiderman headphones (They named their dogs Parker and MJ).
My santa contacted me anonymously to tell me he'd be shipping late. Meanwhile, I was looking at the gallery where everyone posts what they receive. There were crazy expensive gifts, like a 50 inch TV, an Apple gift card for $1337, and even live lobsters. However, there were also really mean gifts like a single stick of gum, a plastic bag, a used pair of nail clippers, and this monstrosity. I was worried I would end up like that. But no. I got an awesome gift.
I was floored. I was jumping up and down. I could not believe some stranger in Iowa would buy me something this awesome based off of a few Reddit posts and this blog. Look:
In case you can't make out everything, they sent me a studio lamp, oil paints, mini canvases, a brush, a mug that says "rest a minute," chocolates, two pounds of Starbucks coffee, a joke letter, a real letter, and a Christmas card addressed to Shea and I. This was more than I ever expected or hoped for. Insane. A stranger on the internet sent me this!
And it wasn't a common thing for people to be disappointed with their gifts. Check out the rest of the gallery!
In this little online experiment, I also signed up for a much smaller Secret Santa organized by the writer of the blog lillyella. She matched everyone herself and sent out emails with the addresses. I had even lower expectations for this exchange, since it was so private and not as organized as the Reddit exchange. I sent my giftee handmade washcloths and three bars of holiday soap from Etsy (most of the blog is Etsy oriented). She blogged about it here. Reading that post really made my day. I still was skeptical that a second random stranger would send me something. But I was again, pleasantly surprised. I received a package in the mail today, and inside was a wrapped gift. Inside that:
This adorable little pouch was actually handmade by my Secret Santa, Stephanie of s-renee.com, a graphic designer and seamstress, as were the cute buttons. I adore handmade accessories! This totally made my day.
This experiment, coupled with some other happy experiences this December, has really changed my initial feelings and expectations about people. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy with this cheery most-people-are-really-pretty-neat-afterall outlook. Lots of people do nice things for other people! It's not just a select few or rare individuals who are nice, reliable, and thoughtful. I like people. My Secret Santas didn't sign up just to get a gift and give me the shaft. I spent money and time doing something nice for a stranger, learning about their life and interests, and another stranger did the same for me. That gives me hope for people, and gives me hope that I'll one day have lots of the kind of non-disappointing relationships I treasure.